The average web page visit lasts less than one minute.
Humans are programmed to sort everything they see into familiar labels, or buckets. Our brains scan the immediate environment to find threats, food, competitors, and potential mates. Like the Terminator searching for John Connor, we make fast assessments and move on.
The same thing is happening with visitors to your blog or website.
Youâ€™re doing the same thing right now reading this blog post. You read the headline, decided it was applicable to your situation, and started scanning. Maybe these quick bullets will keep you reading.
Tactics for Building a Useful Web Presence
- Use your Google Analytics to view landing and exit pages. If certain landing pages lead to an immediate exit, tweak the content. Keep testing what is resonating with your visitors.
- Have a clear path. People donâ€™t usually land on the home page and click a giant â€œbuyâ€ button immediately. Have a plan for how you want visitors to progress through your information, and where you want them to end up.
- Use markers like arrows, visual flow, friendly text. Design canâ€™t be an afterthought. In â€œTerminatorâ€ mode, people need simple visual clues about where to click next.
- Make your â€œaskâ€ very clear. Is your site supporting a business? What are you selling? Is it a hobby/journal blog? Are you supporting a non-profit? Donâ€™t make your visitors guess.
- Declutter. Set up a routine review of your blog or website, with the intention of taking out anything thatâ€™s not crucial. Old badges, social buttons, ads that arenâ€™t getting clicks, be ruthless, like you are with your closet.
- Stop sending people away to other sites. You may have noticed that a lot of the big bloggers have started removing their â€œfollow me on…â€ buttons from the home page (replacing it with email capture instead). Consider whether you really want to send your visitors away like that.
- Check your mobile experience too. Whip out your smartphone and look at your site. Is it fugly? Do something about it! Hereâ€™s a handy post from Shonali Burke if youâ€™re running WordPress.
Why do you have a blog or website? How do you make that clear to your visitors?
By Rosemary O’Neill
So many blogs, so little time. And our RSS feeds and email in-boxes become a one way tube, vacuuming up new subscriptions every day.
How often do you take a moment to prune out blogs that no longer meet your current needs?
My favorite shirt
That surf shirt from high school was so comfy. The t-shirt material was soft and thin from years of use, and it almost conformed to the shape of my body. I loved it for so long. And then one day I realized that I didnâ€™t have enough room in my drawers to keep it anymore. Further, as a 40-something business owner and mom of three, I had no use for a 30 year old t-shirt. It had to go.
Some of those old blog subscriptions are like faded t-shirts too. Perhaps you needed to learn how to start a Twitter account, or the ABCs of Facebook, at one time, but youâ€™ve grown, your perspective may have shifted. Heck, your entire business model may have shifted.
Get some new input
The great thing about tossing the old clothes (or blog subscriptions) is the ability to add new stuff to the drawer. When was the last time you actively sought out new voices for your subscription stream?
Action items for today
- Each time you get a new blog post (via email or RSS), evaluate whether it is still relevant to you, where you are today. If not, unsubscribe.
- If you havenâ€™t read the posts from a blogger in more than 3 weeks, time to unsubscribe.
- Go to Technorati.com or AllTop.com and browse the subject areas that interest you to find new bloggers to follow.
- Go to the Twitter profile of someone you admire and look at the people he/she follows. Then use their bios to find their blogs and subscribe.
- Do a Google search for â€œblogâ€ and your favorite keyword to find new blogging voices.
Are you ready to update your content wardrobe?
Thank you, Rosemary!
ME “Liz” Strauss
by Rosemary O’Neill
These days, everything around us has a built-in indicator to tell us when somethingâ€™s wrong. My car has been telling me I need â€œService A4â€ for about a month now. Our iPhones have battery life indicators. Even my kidsâ€™ school lunch account pings me when itâ€™s low.
But thereâ€™s no handy-dandy centralized indicator to tell you when your online business needs maintenance.
There are so many things to keep an eye on when you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur. Â
Industry developments, customer challenges, payroll, legal requirements, and (if you can squeeze it in) planning for the future, all must be monitored. Toss social media tracking and reputation management in the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for stress.
Letâ€™s set up a manageable system that tracks only the most important indicators. Pull out your business plan and/or marketing and sales plan. What are your key milestones for success? What is your â€œred lineâ€ you canâ€™t go below as far as sales pipeline or conversions?
Bearing in mind your goals and critical areas, here are some of the items you might want to add to your weekly checkup. I use simple spreadsheets.
Brand awareness indicators
Set up Google alerts on your company name and your own name, as well as your product name(s).
Visit Topsy.com for mentions on the web and on social networks (you can set up alerts or periodically check in). For the spreadsheet, you could track number of mentions over time to see if youâ€™re on an upward trend.
Another indicator of increasing awareness is branded searches. In your Google Analytics, click Traffic Sources Overview. The keyword list will show you whether people coming to your site are typing in your brand name to get there. You could tally up the number of branded searches each week and track that trend as well.
Marketing and Sales Indicators
Again in your Google Analytics, track the number of new visitors over time. Thatâ€™s a good indicator of increasing interest, and possibly marketing success.
Track true conversions over time. You can set up conversion paths within Google Analytics just by telling Google which action on your site represents a â€œconversion,â€ for example, subscribing to a newsletter or clicking the â€œbuyâ€ button. Conversions can also be tracked by dividing raw unique visitors by number of sales over a given time frame.
If youâ€™re using Hootsuite Pro, you can get reports of activity across all of your connected accounts. This is a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of your social networks. Are your Twitter followers increasing? Is your content getting shared? Your dashboard should include some idea of whether your overall network is increasing.
One other statistic to track is the number of new incoming sales inquiries. Most CRM systems make it easy to keep track of new leads, but it can be as simple as tallying the number of new email inquiries from a form on your website. Thatâ€™s the top of your sales pipeline, so you want this number to stay healthy.
Revenue, of course, must be on your dashboard as well. Be detailed enough that you can see which lines of business are doing well and which might be struggling. That might mean breaking out products vs services.
Planning for the future
Just as you get periodic checkups from your doctor, you should re-evaluate your plan and dashboard indicators routinely.
Weekly updates on the spreadsheets plus a quarterly plan review will keep you on track and allow time for course correction if necessary.
What are your key indicators for the health of your business?
Thank you, Rosemary!
ME “Liz” Strauss